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Tour highlights importance of East Galway monuments and heritage sites

History enthusiasts and community group representatives from across the county participated in whistlestop bus tour of some of East Galway’s most intriguing built heritage sites as part of International Day for Monuments and Sites 2024.

Galway Community Archaeology Project and Galway County Council hosted the free bus tour of Kilboght Church and Graveyard, Abbeygormican and St. Kerrill’s Abbey in Gurteen.

Gurteen Community Council, Kilboght Graveyard Heritage Group and Abbeygormican Cemetery Group have each prepared conservation management plans and undertaken conservation works at the historic sites through the Community Monuments Fund, which is administered by Galway County Council on behalf of The National Monuments Service

Participants of the day tour first visited the Abbeygormican, an Augustinian House founded by the Cormicans in the 12th Century.

What stands today is the chancel wall and transept chapel, now conserved thanks to ongoing work by the graveyard committee in securing funding. An artist’s impression of what Abbeygormican may have looked like was also shown to allow the group visualise this important site.

The group has also carried out the Digital Recording of the Graveyard, funded by Galway Rural Development and supported by Galway County Council and The Heritage Council.

Next up was Kilboght Church, Graveyard and Mausoleum, which also has seen a transformation with the removal of ivy and stabilisation of the church and The Blake Mausoleum.

Peggy Doherty told the group about the years of ongoing struggle for the community to maintain this rare and sensitive site. Dr Christy Cunniffe and Dominic Delany were on site to guide the visitors and point out architectural fragments used as grave markers, medieval tool marks on the water font and the outline of the original medieval parish church and later extensions.

Mike Herwood of Galway Stone Design was also on hand to demonstrate the skills of the tradesmen who carried out the works at Kilboght 2023.

The touring group were treated to an enlightening talk by Pat Roberts, Ecologist with MKO Ltd on his involvement with each conservation project, and the need to engage with professional services in advance of any works at an archaeological site or monument, particularly when overgrowth or ivy is involved.

The final stop of the day was at St Kerrill’s Abbey in Gurteen, also known as Cloonkeenkerrill, where Martina Donnellan highlighted St Kerrill’s significance within the community, and informed the group about the folklore and traditions of the church and graveyard.

An effigy to Bishop O’Kelly, a cat-o-mount on a Burke tomb, and several medieval architectural features including an ogee headed window were highlighted.

“The aim of International Day for Monuments and Sites is to encourage local groups and individuals to consider the importance of cultural heritage to their lives, identities, and communities, and to promote awareness of its diversity and vulnerability and the efforts required to protect and conserve it,” said Bernie Doherty of the Galway Community Archaeology Project.

You can visit the Galway Community Archaeology Project website at for more.

Pictured: Galway Community Archaeologist Bernie Doherty with a group of visitors at Kilboght during International Day of Monuments and Sites 2024.

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